Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Artist Feature: Alvin Mark Tan - A Pilgrim's Progress

A friend of mine launched his first book recently. He went on a close to 800-km sketchwalk for 30 days in Spain and sketched the sights, people, and experiences along the way. His book is titled Thirty Days on the Camino, and his name is Alvin Mark Tan.

Alvin (left) and me

SD: Hi Alvin. Congratulations on your book launch! Tell us something about your book and what we can find inside.

AMT: I walked over 800km on the popular Camino de Santiago in Spain and documented what I saw throughout the entire journey. My book is in a sketch journal format. You will find ink drawings and watercolour pieces in it.

SD: What inspired you to take this trip and publish this book?

AMT: A friend told me about this (the Camino) and it seemed that it would be an adventurous journey. I've always wanted to publish a book. It seemed like a good time to do so.

SD: Why did you choose the Camino over other walking trails?

AMT: I did not know about many walking trails previously, so when I was first introduced to it, I jumped in on the idea.

SD: How long have you been drawing and painting? Where did you learn to do it?

AMT: Apart from art class in primary and secondary school, I have been drawing since 2009 when I took a 2 year animation course in Singapore. But that was just school. I got serious only in the beginning of 2012. I started learning oils at the end of 2011. As for watercolors, I started learning to use them in March of 2012.

I have plenty of teachers - like a 100 over!! Yes, I'm exaggerating, but you know what I mean.

In 2009 I was briefly re-introduced to drawing by Philip Garcia who taught me for one semester at (the now defunct) Egg Story Digital Arts School. At the end of the 2-year animation program, I went to Los Angeles to pick up more drawing and painting skills under Karl Gnass, Glenn Vippu, David Colman, Kevin Chen, and many, many other wonderfully talented artists. Since that was only a 3 month course, I had to return to Singapore to continue practising my skills. Back home, I took classes from Zhu Hong (watercolor) and Poon Ee Way (Pastel).

SD: What materials did you use for the artwork?

AMT: Hero pen loaded with Hero ink. When I damaged the pen, I used a twig dipped in China ink for a brief period. Finally I found some place that sold Mont Blanc ink and continued using the dipping method with my Hero pen. I also brought along a mechanical pencil and a bunch of Holbein watercolors pre-squeezed into an air-tight segmented container I bought in Seoul.

SD: What are some of the most memorable parts of your journey?

AMT: Crossing the Pyrenees on National Day!!! :) (Singapore's National Day is on 9 August)

SD: What are some of the most precious lessons you brought back?

AMT: I learned a great deal about detachment - letting things go, and moving forward. I was also able to practise not planning too many things in detail, because plans do and will always change. Keeping my life simple was also a good lesson I picked up from the journey. I had only a 10 kg "home" I carried around with me and that forced me to live with only the basic necessities.

SD: Do you have any advice for someone who might be interested in walking the Camino?

AMT: Yes: "Don't plan." Just go and soak in as much as you can. I try not to say too much when asked this very question about the Camino because I think allowing yourself to be surprised by the Camino will be of value to your adventure.

Here are some photos from Alvin's book launch. Enjoy!

And some pictures of the inside of Alvin's book.

And here are some pictures of Alvin's art that he so kindly provided:

Copyright © Alvin Mark Tan 2012

Copyright © Alvin Mark Tan 2012

Copyright © Alvin Mark Tan 2012

Copyright © Alvin Mark Tan 2012

Get in touch with Alvin at:

My advice: Get the book. Great value-for-money for $29 SGD!

Be inspired!

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